Posts in Street & Style
Native Brand

If your music taste skew to heavier side of spectrum then the name Joel Birch should be familiar if you have been exposed to local success story turned international juggernaut, The Amity Affliction. It is projects outside of music though which give Joel the opportunity to flex his creativity without the bounds of a microphone and stadium lights.


Native Brand is one of those projects. The name may ring a bell from our feature on Milan Chagoury in Issue 8, who was a partner in the business at that point in time. Since that article Milan has moved on to other projects while Joel stayed aboard and now steers the ship under a new vision and renewed vigour the make it work.

Under the slogan, “Dream Forever”, Native Brand’s new direction is single minded in tangibly articulating Joel’s view that there is beauty to be found everywhere, everyday. And if you think about it, operating under that guiding principle implies that, really, anything is possible. All you need is a dash of everyone’s favourite secret sauce, imagination, to uncover it. The label’s latest range is the most literal distilment of this to date.


Under the slogan, “Dream Forever”, Native Brand’s new direction is single minded in tangibly articulating Joel’s view that there is beauty to be found everywhere, everyday.

This fondness for the little things seems to stems from Joel’s innate affinity with nature and, aesthetically, this is where the label leans heavily on as a source of inspiration. Yet while nature is part of the label’s DNA, the designs themselves are actually intended as visual nods to the romanticism of travel and surf photography and the feverish excitement that comes with discovering new places.

Native’s newfound sense of purpose and self-confidence has come off the back of a number of significant learnings though. Notably, the need for simplification and localisation of the supply chain (Grand Scheme are close collaborators) and also unsatisfactory results from experimentation with street culture influences two collections ago. The latter was a particularly important reality check for Joel to reset and bring things more in-line with his feelings about nature and living near the ocean.


Perhaps most interesting though is the opportunity Native Brand has to further enrich its proposition by start leveraging Joel’s global perspectives from touring into future iterations. And from his point of view, the sky really is the limit when you’re dreaming forever so what that looks like is really anybody’s guess.



A humble ten years ago, Sydney’s Inner West was blessed with the birth of Aisle6ix. The bespoke screen printing studio is a thriving, homegrown business with a talented crew of 6 who can print... well… just about anything! With a diverse client base under their belt and a passion for the traditional printing process, Aisle6ix has, and deservedly so, become a force to be reckoned with. We caught up with Shannon, the brains behind Aisle6ix, to dig a little deeper into what it means to be a part of such a homegrown landmark. 



NC: Tell us your love story with screen printing! How did you discover the process?
Shannon: It all started when I moved to Sydney from Canberra when I was 26. Aisle6ix started as a T-shirt label as I’m a huge fan of the clothing label Mambo and I loved that they were constantly coming up with new ideas and designs. I loved buying the T-shirts on the racks that I thought were one offs so my plan was to make limited runs of T-shirts under Aisle6ix and the first ones that I printed has slogans on them such as ‘sarcasm = honesty’. In the early days when I was doing screen printing classes at Tafe everyone started to become graphic designers but no one was printing, so I started doing super short print runs. Then in 2005 I went to London and worked at Photofit, which is a print shop near Old Street Tube, and that’s where I learnt most of my printing skills. Returning to Australia I set up my studio in Redfern while doing NEIS and being supported by my wife, Shakira. Fast forward to 2017 and the studio is now in St Peters, Sydney, and we’ve been here for five years. I have an amazing crew working with me. 


NC: What does a typical day look like in the Aisle6ix studio?
Shannon: We start early, which means coffee, ovens are turned on and jobs are set up by Matty V and Benny C. If Orbski isn’t printing posters he’s setting up screens, mixing ink or packing finished work. JC, our art guy, is in the artwork preparation zone working his skills and all of this is going on while I’m taking calls, answering emails and running the studio. 

"We’re a bespoke printing studio, handmade with passion and skill. We’re interested in delivering products that are well made, durable and unique so they won’t be thrown away in four weeks time."

NC: In a world full of mass production and outlandish consumer demand, it has become increasingly difficult to find businesses with the same level of passion and craftsmanship that exists at Aisle6ix! What is so special about owning a local business?
Shannon: We feel that having control over all aspects of production means that we produce a superior finished product. We are a small team but we all work really well together to ensure attention to detail is maintained throughout every step and we all love what we do. Being based in St Peters which means that clients have easy access to us to discuss their projects. 


NC: How do you feel about the nature of mass production in the consumer market right now?
Shannon: I understand that it has a place but it’s at the other end of what we do. We’re a bespoke printing studio, handmade with passion and skill. We’re interested in delivering products that are well made, durable and unique so they won’t be thrown away in four weeks time. 

NC: A key part of what you do at Aisle6ix is collaboration! Tell us about that!
Shannon: We love doing collaborations and some of our past clients have included, Kindred Studio, Headset Apparel, Garbett and Formist Studio. Collaborations also push us out of our comfort zones so we’re continually expanding our skill set. We worked with the amazing Jess Scully to put together a fundraising exhibition for Clover Moore, the Lord Mayor of Sydney. The exhibition included some of Australia’s best artists and graphic designers including Luca Ionescu, Vince Frost, Jumbo, Collider, WBYK, Numbskull, Toby and Pete and Nadia Hernandez. We printed 26 different A2 poster editions of 10. 


NC: What is the most memorable job you have received so far?
Shannon: We were contacted by a production company to do some filming for the Mambo: Art Irritates Life documentary that was broadcast on ABC. Mambo is one of the key reasons I got into screen printing so I didn’t hesitate to say yes. At the end of filming, Scott Dettrick, the creative director, said that the studio was the closest to what Mambo was back in their prime. That is easily the best thing that any one has said about the studio. The icing on the cake was printing some original Mambo T-shirts that were used in the tv production. 


NC: What’s the grand plan for Aisle6ix? What can we expect to see in the future?
Shannon: We’ve just launched a new website with a bunch of collaboration T-shirts that we’ve been working on and we have our 5th birthday in early 2018 which means it’s going to be a busy and exciting couple of months. We’re always looking to work with different collaborators on projects and our collaborations keep getting bigger and better. One arm of the studio is live printing at events and we’ll be expanding this in 2018 which is really exciting.

The Critical Slide Society Winter 2017 collection

The Critical Slide Society (TCSS) is back for the Winter 2017 Southern Hemisphere and Summer 2017 Northern Hemisphere season with a bigger, better and wittier campaign and range than ever before called ‘Greetings From’.


Founded in 2009 in a sleepy seaside village on the Central Coast of NSW, TCSS was launched by a couple of surfers and artists, Jim Mitchell and Sam Coombes. 

What started out as a hobby turned into the well-known, authentic, creative label that surfers around the globe love to wear. TCSS is more than just a clothing brand however, they are a platform that celebrates an emerging alternative movement within surf culture: working with artists, photographers, designers, filmmakers and surfers from across the world.

For Greetings From,  Mitchell and Coombes have collaborated with Indonesian artist Arswandaru Cahyo who has laid his signature, comic illustrations over each campaign shot - giving the campaign a unique take of their surf culture compared to their previous campaigns.

Greetings From has also once again utilised the lens skills of Hunter Thomson. Hunter is a prime example of what TCSS represents, he started out as an intern at the ripe age of 16 and has now shot their most recent campaigns thanks to his eye for capturing raw "moments between the moments”.

Winning Best Boardshort two years running, TCSS are up for the gong again this year.

Interview with Sam Coombes

Tell us a little bit about your background and how you started TCSS
Back in 2000, Damien Fuller (The Board Collector) was an accessories designer at Mambo, he came into my uni and presented his design process. At the end of the presentation, he said, "And don't bother asking about internships or work experience... we don't do any." So after everyone left the room, of course I approached him about an internship or work experience. He flicked me Jonas Allen’s number (Mambo Art Director and now good friend) and for the next three months I called every Friday asking for an internship. Finally he gave in and I started a part time job at Mambo. I worked there until 2005. Across design, marketing and anything else I could get my hands on. I also met Jim Mitchell (my now business partner). I then took a slight career shift, working for MTV in a marketing role and later, becoming marketing director for their Australia/New Zealand branch. I worked at MTV until 2011.

"I started TCSS with my business partner Jim at the end of 2009. It was literally a weekend side project, a bit of fun. We did sink our life savings into it (which wasn’t too much) and got it to the point that it could no longer be run as a hobby. So in February 2011, we took the plunge and moved onto it full-time. The rest is history!"

-Sam Coombes

What’s different this season for Greetings From compared to your previous campaigns? 
It's a really fun collection. Super strong graphics and prints. Most of the graphics have actually been developed in-house by Shaun and Hopey. In terms of the campaign, it feels like a slight throwback to the kind of campaigns we used to run a few years ago, nothing too serious and a real focus on the graphic aesthetic.

Tell us a bit about your design process
For our most recently designed collection, Matt and I spent a week in LA, sifting through Rosebowl markets, visiting vintage stores. Much of what we do has a bit of a vintage reference – mainly 70s, 80s and 90s. We take some of those references and contemporise and update. The theme for the most recently designed collection is South of the Border. We thought this to be pretty topical, and basically referred to juxtaposition of cultures, as opposed to just a typical Californian take on South of the Border. There’s five of us in the office that throw the references and stories around, then they hit and we’re off designing. We’re really happy with the way the product is coming in. We’re all super proud. The creative campaign then ties back to the overall theme of the collection. 

Biggest inspirations? 
Geez, kind of suck stuff up from everywhere. For me personally guys like Shaun Stussy, Tom Sachs, Thomas Campbell, Geoff McFetridge. Music also plays a big part, The Growlers, The Strokes and the local scene that’s going on in Sydney influences our work. And the work being done by Shapers (who we work with), Dead Kooks, and Thomas Surfboards are all inspirations.

How did the collaboration with Arswandaru come about? 
We really like the guy. He would often send us graphics, or post stuff and tag us on social media. We liked the fact that he was keen to work with us, loved the brand and he wasn’t being used by everyone in industry. We have a good history of jumping on artists pretty early. We’ve worked with guys like Steven Harrington, Tyler Warren, Land Boys (Caleb Owen Everitt), Georgia Hill and more!

I heard that your photographer Hunter Thomson started out interning for you. Is working with future talents important to you as a brand? 
As mentioned, above, we love to be able to work with new talent. Hunter is 18! He’s turning into quite the photographer. He’s shot a number of our most recent campaigns. We love to work with new talent and build them up. To some extent this was the original premise of the brand, that’s where the society part of our naming comes in, it’s about forming a group of like-minded people. Hunter was shooting a bunch of the young surf kids up on the coast. Jim liked what he was doing and the rest is history. He literally just left today for a week long trip to Japan’s Greenroom Festival to shoot for us. He’s pretty excited about that. 

Describe TCSS in three words
Community, surfing, quality.

Mambo - ACID TROPIC Collection

“Mambo’s designs have always told a story through art and characters, this year will be no different.”

-Lee McConnell

One of Australia’s most iconic surf and art brand Mambo,  launches new season with LEE MCCONNELL at the helm.

Officially taking the role of Art Director at the start of the year, Lee is keeping the business focused on real artworks and bringing it back to its true heritage of art and music. Celebrating more than 30 years of artistic history and satirical designs, the brand shows no signs of slowing down with a number of creative collaborations in the pipeline. 

Announced for the second year in a row, Mambo returns as Splendour in the Grass’ major fashion sponsor, with plans to activate bigger, better and more immersive art installations. Lee will be leading the art direction, which will be based on the collection Paradise Psych in the prime position of the top of the amphitheatre. 

Above images: Life Without Andy

Last year McConnell, alongside other Mambo artists, designed the Screaming Guitar, which was a completely interactive five-metre-tall guitar with a 2m giant tongue for festival goers to slide down on. At night, the guitar’s eyes lit up as well as the neck flashing and flickering.  

These art installations represent the strong sense of creativity, artistic heritage and daring sense of humour Mambo is known and loved for. 

“Mambo’s designs have always told a story through art and characters, this year will be no different.” Lee explains. 


The fusion of music and art is a natural combination for Lee, and his style is a natural fit for the Mambo. All the art is hand drawn with a focus on line work and new art is created every season.

Alongside working with Mambo, Lee is also involved with a number of other creative endeavours, including his recent collaborative work with the Dune Rats album cover and tour posters as well as co directing a music festival, Grow Your Own, in partnership with friend and musician Holly Rankin (Jack River).